Demons of the Decades: treasured teachers spread wisdom

By Margaux Newby


Mrs. Downs, Mrs. Stuntz, and Mr. Cash have taught at DHS for a significant amount of time. El Diablo interviewed them to get their thoughts on their experiences during the time that they have been at DHS.


Mrs. Downs:


Brenda Downs, a chemistry teacher at DHS, has been a teacher for 32 years and has taught at DHS for 29 years.

 “The overall climate at DHS with the positive students and my colleagues is wonderful,” said Downs.

Downs loves seeing her students want to learn something.

“Students have a positive vibe, positive energy that I just love,” said Downs.

There have been many significant changes at DHS in the past 29 years that she has experienced. Many teachers who have been at DHS for a long time have seen the student population change a lot.

“The number of students has definitely changed since I’ve been here,” said Downs, “technology [has changed], good and bad, [it] has good parts, and then it has the phone part.”

Downs had planned to be a doctor, and was studying chemistry in her undergraduate.

“Then my professor said I wouldn’t be a good doctor because I couldn’t handle death,” said Downs.

She then moved on to teach a nursing chemistry class.

“I loved teaching the nursing chemistry and seeing the faces of the older nurses that I was teaching get it, so I thought, well that’s a good way to go,” said Downs.

Outside of school, Mrs. Downs likes to camp, hike, and read. “I like any outdoor activities,” said Downs.

Downs loves the positive energy from the students and staff at DHS, “it’s a safe place to work, it’s a good place to work, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.


Mrs. Stuntz:


Zoa Stuntz is currently a French teacher at DHS. She has been a teacher for 32 years.

In the middle of her career, she took several years off to be with her three young daughters and then came back to DHS to resume her teaching career. During the 29 years Stuntz has been in the classroom, she has experienced many changes.

“Teaching French in Durango was my first job and my only job. It’s almost like you forget about the past in a way, you forget about what it used to be like, you just continue to adjust year after year” said Stuntz.

Stuntz got her degree in French, but didn’t know she wanted to be a French teacher initially .  “In college when I was studying French, I thought, well maybe I could teach French, …once I tried it, I loved it,” said Stuntz.  

One of the reasons Stuntz enjoys teaching is at the end of each year,  she can choose to change careers or teach for another year. “In other jobs, you just kind of work day after day, and maybe one day you say ‘OK I’m over it, I’m going to give my two weeks notice and I’m going to leave.”   

Stuntz loves her subject matter, her students, and the environment at DHS.  Outside of teaching, Mrs. Stuntz likes to travel, fly fish, go to the lake, sing, spend time with her family, and listen to live music.


Mr. Cash:

Edward Cash, or Ed, is an AP World History and Modern U.S. History teacher at DHS. He has been teaching for 29 years, 26 of those in the 9R District and 24 at DHS.

Cash has seen multiple changes at DHS in the 24 years he’s been teaching here. Specifically, Cash has noticed that DHS has been focusing more on struggling students lately.

“I think that’s a really good thing to do. We’re trying our best to help every student here get a good education,” said Cash.

Cash taught in South Carolina for three years before coming to DHS and he described it as being very “difficult  to get students engaged.”

“Durango students, for the most part,  like to learn and like to know about a bunch of stuff,” said Cash.

“My mom told me when I was 14 I’d be a history teacher and I thought she was crazy,” said Cash. After going to graduate school in Political Science, “[he] switched to education and really just loved being with teenagers.”

Outside of teaching, Mr. Cash likes to read, snowshoe, ski, hike, camp, and be in the canyons. He loves being with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

“I like doing everything that there is to do here,” said Cash.

Cash thinks the staff is highly professional and loves living in  Durango and all the activities it brings.

“The kids are great, we’ve always been a really good high school, and Durango’s just a great place to be,” said Cash.